Veronica*, a resident of the new affordable housing community of Vista Verde in the City of Ontario, has always dreamed of being a veterinarian. Although she knew she wanted to heal animals since she “was in diapers,” her path was never that simple. Veronica is a single mother of a 4-year-old and has no family support, which, until recently, had made pursuing her dreams next to impossible.
“I had been wanting to go back to school for years, but I couldn’t because I always worked two jobs and could never fit school in,” Veronica said. “I don’t even have my own parents in my life and my little guy doesn’t have his other side of the family, so it was always pressure to work, work, work.”
Veronica’s son, James*, has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Global Development Delay, which require extensive therapy. Veronica’s two jobs – most recently working in sales as an account executive for a merchant service provider and as a CPR instructor – always felt like three, because she spends about 25 hours a week working with James and his developmental therapists.
“I was just working all the time. I only saw him at nighttime, having to feed him, showering him, doing therapy with him, putting him to sleep,” Veronica said. “Then in the mornings, I’d get him ready, I’d have to ship him off to daycare, and I wouldn’t see him until very late at night.” Veronica said that she has always neglected her own emotional needs to work and take care of James.
James could tell his mom was unhappy and always tired. If they had time to play together at night, Veronica’s mind, exhausted from hours of customer service, would be completely tuned out.
Then, the pandemic tanked the two industries that Veronica worked in. Laid off, with no income, Veronica applied for unemployment, but only received benefits for a few months before the payments stopped due to a clerical error. For months, she called the unemployment office every day, with no results. She was thankful that, due to her years of hard work, she had savings preventing her from losing her home, but those savings were dwindling.
That is when a friend told Veronica about National CORE. On the affordable housing provider’s website, she saw plans for a new community, Vista Verde, right where she lived in Ontario. She applied and was thrilled to be called off the waiting list, but she still had to go through the paperwork and requirements to confirm she qualified for the housing. Veronica said that throughout the long verification process, Vista Verde Assistant Community Manager Vicky was with her every step of the way, making sure she had the resources and support to complete the requirements. Finally, Veronica got the call she had been waiting for – she had been approved to move in. Her rent is now half of what she paid previously, giving her much-needed flexibility.
“Luckily for me, I got in at the perfect time,” Veronica said. “I was really blessed to move into the property here last month. And upon being a new resident, I learned that there are so many great services offered.”
Veronica found that National CORE’s long-term services partner Hope through Housing offers financial, emotional, and parenting services, providing the support system she always had needed. She said Vista Verde’s amenities and convenient location also have been a huge help. The community’s onsite laundry services now spare her the weekly trips to the laundromat, a daycare located just two blocks away gives her schedule flexibility, and she has been very impressed by the supportive and welcoming staff, who showed up at her door when she moved in with a welcome basket of home essentials.
“When I moved to this complex, I felt super welcomed. I’ve never moved into anywhere and felt so welcomed, at all,” Veronica said.
One thing Veronica was worried about was how James would adjust to the move, which she said can be a “recipe for disaster” for an Autistic child. Previously, James could go to their backyard and play on the play structure that Veronica had saved up for and bought. As hard as it was for her to sell that hard-earned playground when she moved, Veronica felt better as soon as she got to Vista Verde and saw tons of outdoor space, a shining new playground, and a beautiful pool. James immediately loved it at Vista Verde, and he has especially enjoyed the playground, where he has started to meet other kids.
Veronica said her life is entirely different since moving to Vista Verde. She is now qualified for government programs like food stamps, social security benefits because of James’ cognitive disabilities, and income from the state because she is James’ In-Home Supportive Services provider. She feels safer in Vista Verde’s secure, gated community, and James has been able to get much-needed socialization. The most important difference in her life is that, since her move-in, she and her son have been able to spend much more time together.
“This morning, we got up early, we went and got our bikes from the bike room [one of five bike storage rooms at Vista Verde], and we biked to the park,” Veronica said.
With her newfound flexibility, Veronica is now a full-time student at Chaffey College, studying business so that she can one day manage a veterinarian practice. She finally has the time she always needed to devote to her son, her own needs, and her future career.
“I couldn’t believe that this came out of Covid, 2020, losing my job. I was draining my savings on paying for life in general. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do,” Veronica said. “Then I got accepted into this amazing program and I feel like it’s changing the course of my life.”
*Names have been changed in this story to protect the privacy of our residents*
About National Community Renaissance (National CORE)
National Community Renaissance based in Southern California, is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. National CORE manages nearly 9,000 affordable, senior, and market-rate units in California, Texas, and Florida. National CORE’s strength is in its ability to offer partners an array of in-house capabilities that navigates the complexities of planning, developing, building, managing, and providing supportive services. For more information on National CORE, please visit www.nationalcore.org.
About Hope through Housing Foundation
Hope through Housing believes that affordable housing can be a platform for transformational change at the individual and neighborhood level. For more than 20 years, the Hope through Housing Foundation has provided more than 2 million hours of transformational social services helping children and teens achieve success, improving families’ financial well-being, and promoting seniors’ health and wellness. For more information on Hope through Housing, please visit www.hthf.org.